-First things first, Mike Johnston said Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist will return to the lineup after being sidelined due to injuries. They are needed in a bad way.
-With Flames defenseman Mark Giordano sidelined for the rest of the season due to an arm injury, Kris Letang has emerged as the clear-cut favorite for the Norris Trophy. Even if Giordano had stayed healthy, Letang's resume was probably strong enough for him to take home the honor.
-The player who may serve as his primary competition for the award is Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Larsson is having a marvelous season on bad team. The Coyotes have the second-worst record in the NHL at 23-44-8 and will likely have one of the top picks in this summer's draft. But that shouldn't diminish the excellent season Ekman-Larsson is having. He leads all defensemen in goal with 21. And in a season where offense is so lean, 20 goals form a defenseman is borderline astronomical.
-Yesterday, the great Joe Vitale, now of the Coyotes, was asked to compare Letang and Ekman-Larsson:
"I think they're very similar as far as how they play offensively, how they join the rush. I think Letang is the kind of guy you have to keep an eye on. He's almost like a fourth forward out there so much. [Ekman-Larsson] maybe not so much. He kind of sits on the back end and kind of like maybe dissects the game a little differently and kind of sees it from a broad spectrum I think. While Kris is aggressive and more in the mix. He'll get in front of the net, he'll get in the corners of the offensive zone and you've got to kind of keep an eye on him in that regard. But both obviously are highly skilled and can score like no other."
-Vitale is back in Pittsburgh for the first time since leaving as a free agent this past summer. His reaction to physically returning to Pittsburgh by way of the airport via the Fort Pitt Tunnel? “That tunnel, man. I hate that tunnel."
-We all do.
-Coyotes forward B.J. Crombeen will play on the Coyotes' fourth line. If you're a Penguins fan of a certain vintage, you may recognize his last name. His father is Mike Crombeen, a former forward with the Blues and Whalers who had a modest xx-year career in the NHL. Arguably, the highlight of his career came with the Blues when he scored the series-clinching goal in double overtime of Game 5 in a preliminary round series against the Penguins in 1981:
(The series was best-of-five.)
-B.J. Crombeen, who was born in 1985, was asked about his father's goal yesterday.
How familiar are you with your father's goal?
"I've heard a little bit about when I [played in] St. Louis. So I got hear some of the stories about it and hear that it was actually true after he told me about it."
So he's probably bragged about it one or twice. Or maybe exaggerated a bit?
"Yeah, yeah, exactly. He probably told me it was a little prettier goal than it was. When I was in St. Louis, they replayed the clip for me a few times and showed me it. So it was pretty neat."
-Some sights. The ice:
-Fan entering the barn:
-This Robert Bortuzzo fan is holding a one-person vigil:
-The Pablo Picasso era Coyotes have a fan here:
-This Maxim Afinogenov Sabres fan may be lost:
-Chris Kunitz is popular in Team Canada form:
-And in Mighty Ducks form:
-Boy is this a great, obscure jersey. Doug Brown:
-A few former Penguins/Coyotes. Dylan Reese:
-The great Joe Vitale is popular in Penguins form:
-And Coyotes form:
(This young lady explained that Vitale is her favorite player since he visited her a few years ago at Children's Hospital.)
-Jerseys of the Day: Never in our wildest imagination, did we ever expect to encounter a John Jakopin/Andy Chiodo combination:
-The Penguins claim via their Twitter account that David Perron is scratched due to an illness.
Their lines and pairs in warmups were:
Daniel Winnik - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Blake Comeau
Beau Bennett - Brandon Sutter - Steve Downie
Nick Spaling - Maxim Lapierre - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Ben Lovejoy - Derrick Pouliot
Rob Scuderi - Ian Cole
-The Penguins starters are Comeau, Kunitz, Malkin, Letang, Martin and Greiss.
-Their scratches are Christian Ehrhoff and Perron.
-The Coyotes' startesr are Mark Arcobello, Shane Doan, Tobias Rider, Ekman-Larsson, Michael Stone and Mike Smith.
-Their scratches are Brandon Gormley and Lauri Korpikoski.
-Jeff Jimerson does his thing:
19:46: In deep on the right of the cage, Rieder flings a backhander which Greiss bats away with his left arm.
19:04: Lovejoy slams Craig Cunningham from behind on the left half wall. Cunningham seems fine. That was close to being a boarding hit.
18:21: Jordan Szwarz directs a shot on net from the slot. Greiss smothers it.
18:07: Pushing play up the right wing, Sutter snaps off a wrister from the Coyotes' half wall. Andrew Campbell blocks it wide.
17:21: Letang wins a race to the puck in the Penguins' right corner and tries to backhand it out of the zone. It ends up sliding to Stone at the right point. He chops it on net. Greiss kicks it out.
17:12: Lapierre pushes a puck up the left wing, gets around Ekman-Larsson and tries to flip a puck on Smith with a backhander. Smith holds it out as as Lapierre jabs at the puck handful of times. That draws a crowd. A handful of Coyotes jump in. Cbomreen tries to drop the gloves and fight Lapierre who is in a headlock. Lapierre and Crombeen each get roughing minors. We'll see two minutes of four-on-four play.
16:21: Taking a pass on the left wing, Doan lifts a wrister on net which Greiss eats up.
15:54: Crosby settles a puck int he Coyotes' slot, spins and attempts a shot but Stone blocks it
15:24: Taking a pass on the left wing, Cole has an acre of ice to work with. He moves in, slows down and lifts a wrister which hits Stone's stick and hops in on Smith who eats it up.
15:01: Cunningham pushes a puck up the right wing and is thumped to the ice by Letang for his troubles. Letang takes the puck and skates it out of danger.
14:41: Lovejoy sails a wrister from the right point. In the left circle, Downie re-directs it wide.
14:16: Taking a pass at the right point, Connor Murphy chucks a wrister. Pouliot reaches out with his right hand and deflects the puck to the far side. Greiss kicks out his right leg to stop the deflection. Pouliot owes him a beer (whenever he's old enough to buy one that is).
13:53: Off a criss-cross play with Kunitz, Malkin races up the left wing and lifts a wrister to the far side. Smith snags it with his glove hand.
12:35: Kunitz tries to jam in a wraparound forehand shot from the right of the cage. Smith holds it out. Kunitz jabs at the puck and draws the ire of a few Coyotes players who give him the business in the left wing corner. Nothing comes of that scrum.
12:17: Battling for a puck in the Coyotes' slot, Malkin appears to trip up Kyle Chipchura who slides into Smith and dislodges the net. Smith heads to the bench with what appears to be an equipment problem.
He remains in the game.
11:33: After a giveaway by Letang, in the defensive zone, Doan whips a wrister from the right half wall. Greiss punches it out.
11:24: Sutter fires a wrister from the left of the cage and falls. Smith fends it off.
11:17: A wrister by Lovejoy from the right point is blocked by xxx.
10:24: Lapierre chucks a spinning wrister from the right wing. Smith fights it off.
9:29: Leading a two-on-rush with Kunitz up the right wing against Murphy, Malkin gains the offensive zone on the right wing and forces a pass to Kunitz which Murphy breaks up. Malkin has to shoot that.
8:54: Crosby controls the puck behind the Coyotes zone and sneaks a pass to Hornqvist above the crease. Hornqvist jabs the puck on net and Smith kicks it out. There's a scramble for the rebound and Crosby jabs at it again only to see Smith come up with the save. Smith has been tough so far.
8:48: Off ensuing faceoff in the Coyotes left circle, Winnik chops a puck from the left wing which Smith kicks out. Crosby has a look at the rebound but can't beat Smith. Smith has come to play.
8:15: As Hornqvist hooks him, Arcobello flips a backhander from the left circle on net. Greiss eats it up and Hornqvist gives Arcobello a thump into the boend boards. Doan comes in and throws Hornqvist to the ice. A scrum develops. Officials break it up. Hornqvist is called for hooking while Doan gets a roughing minor. That wasn't a very composed play by a veteran like Doan. We'll see four-on-four play for two minutes.
7:53: Settling a puck at the right point, Lovejoy chops a slapper on net. Smith fight it o
7:41: Stealing a puck off Gagner in the left circle, Sutter Rips a wrister on net which Smith snags with a snazzy glove save.
7:07: Off a rush up ice, Chipchura has a chance in tight but his backhander is denied by Greiss.
6:47: Battling for a puck in the Coyotes' right wing corner, Comeau slams Campbell from a strange angle into the boards. Campbell's face hits the glass and he appears to be in pain. He heads to the bench with a towel over his face and retreats to the dressing room. Comeau gets a boarding major and a game misconduct. Yeesh. We could see the boarding major but a game misconduct? Bennett will serve the major. The Coyotes will get a brief four on three power play. Sutter, Winnik and Lapierre take the ice.
6:34: A wrister by Ekman-Larsson from the point is denied by Greiss.
6:19: Greiss kicks out another wrister by Ekman-Larsson.
6:15: Hornqvist and Doan return to the ice. The Coyotes will get a lengthy five-on-four power play.
4:16: Gagner chops a slapper from the right point. Greiss fight it off despite a screen.
2:54: Rieder blast a slapper from the right circle. Greiss kicks it out. Spaling appears to poke the rebound out of danger.
2:11: Stone chucks a wrister from the right point. Greiss eats it up despite a screen by David Moss.
1:47: The major penalty expires. The Penguins did a pretty good job of limiting the quality of the Coyotes' chances there.
1:31: Taking a feed in the slot, Hornqvist rips a wrister which hits a stick and deflects wide.
1:13: Kuntiz chops a slapper from the right wing wide to the far side.
1:04: Murphy airmails a slapper from outside the Penguins' blue line on the right wing. Greiss eats it up.
0:26: Tye McGinn whacks a one-timer from the the left circle but Pouliot blocks it.
0:00: End of Period. Coyotes 0, Penguins 0.
-Even with no goals, that was a pretty entertaining period. There was plenty of skating and plenty of quality offensive chances.
-Smith and Greiss were each pretty sharp that period, especially Smith. He stole a few goals from Crosby and Hornqvist.
-Hornqvist looked like how he usually looks. He was in front of the net causing havoc.
-Malkin's skating was pretty strong for a player who appeared to suffer some sort of leg injury.
-Michael Stone seems to be involved in everything on each end of the ice.
-The Penguins have a 14-13 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 20-19 lead in attempted shots.
-Murphy leads the game with four shots on net.
-Lapierre leads the Penguins with three shots on net.
-Stone leads the game with 9:36 of ice time.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 8:25 of ice time.
-The Coyotes have a 12-10 lead in faceoffs (xx percent).
-Gagner is 5 for 6 (83 percent).
-Sutter is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Pouliot leads the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: It doesn't look like Campbell is back on the bench. Downie starts the period on Malkin's right wing in place of Comeau.
19:48: Malkin chucks a wriste ron net form the right half wall. Smith eats it up.
19:34: Off a faceoff win in the Penguins' right circle, Murphy rips a wrister wide on the near side.
18:00: Off a defensive zone turnover by Cole, the great Joe Vitale lifts a wrister from the high slot. Greiss fends it off.
17:05: Lapierre controls the puck on the right half wall of the Coyotes' zone and is hauled down by John Moore. Lapierre ends up pulling his stick out of his hands. Moore protests to no avail. He is called for tripping. The Penguins get their first power play of the day. Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Kuntiz and Hornqvist take the ice.
16:25 From center point, a slapper blocked by Malkin is blocked by Doan.
15:28: Malkin races into the offensive zone on the right wing, veers to the slot and deals a pass to Kunitz who lifts a wrister on net. Smith eats it up.
15:20: Pouliot chucks a wrister from the right half wall. Smith kicks it out. Bennett's chance with the rebound is blocked by Stone.
14:51: Off a feed by Martin, Bennett sweeps a backhander from the left of the cage on net. Smith kicks it out.
15:05: The Moore minor is killed. The Penguins had a few decent chances on that power play.
13:44: Hornqvist hustles to the right wing corner and steals a puck. That leads to a wrister by Winnik which Smith kicks out.
12:53: Campbell is back on the Coyotes' bench.
12:42: Moss chops a puck from low in the right circle wide on the near side.
12:16: After Malkin forces Moore into a turnover in the Coyotes' left corner, Downie has a chance in tight to the right of the cage but can't get a true shot off.
11:16: Bennett smacks Murphy with a solid check on the Coyotes' end boards.
10:09: After a defensive zone turnover by Hornqvist, Jordan Szwarz whips a wrister on net from the left point. Greiss eats it up.
9:12: Lapierre spins off the right wing half wall and fires a wrister which Smith fends off.
8:09: Off a three-on-three rush, Kunitz rips a wrister from the right circle which Smith eats up.
8:04: Off the ensuing faceoff win in the Coyotes' right circle, xx snaps off a wrister from the right half wall wide to the far side.
7;30: Scuderi blasts a a slapper from the right point. Stone blocks it. Bennett has a chance at the rebound but fires it wide from the slot.
7:15: Coles cranks a slapper from the right point. Smith punches it out.
7:10: Trying to clear the puck out of danger, Stone clears the puck out of play from his own zone. That's a delay of game minor. Malkin, Crosby, Hornqvist, Kunitz and Letang take the ice.
7:02: Stealing a puck at the right point, Malkin deals a pass to Crosby in the left circle. Crosby taps a shot on net and Smith fights it off.
6:52: Short-handed, Rieder deals a puck from the left wing to Vitale racing up the slot. Kunitz hooks up Vitale and sends him crashing into the end boards violently. Play is halted. Vitale is shaken up a bit. He eventually recovers to his skates and head to the dressing room. Kuntiz is called for hooking . There will be 1:42 of four-on-four play.
6:17: Letang chops a shot/pass from above the left circle into the slot. Malkin re-directs it on net. Smith kicks it out.
4:45: Letang plays a puck out of his left wing corner up ice. Down forechecks him and slams his down with fairly innocent shove. Letang braces for the hit and ends up slamming the back of his head off the boards. Play is halted. Letang is down in a heap. Athletic trainer Chris Stewart attends to him. On the Root Sports broadcast, Letang's eyes look really glassy. He looks to be in really bad shape. Team doctor Dharmesh Vyas attends to him. After several minutes, he recovers to his skates but is helped off the ice by Downie and Scuderi. He heads to the bench and heads back to the dressing room with some assistance. Oof. This could be bad. There's no penalty on the play and there really shouldn't be. It was a pretty routine hit. We'd like to see a better replay of the hit to see if it was late or not.
4:41: Vitale is back on the ice. Off the ensuing facoeff in the neutral zone, McGinn hacks the stick out of Hornqvist's hands. McGinn is called for slashing. Crosby, Malkin, Hornqvist, Kunitz and Pouliot take the ice.
4:18: Off some fancy passing, Kunitz taps a pass from the left circle to Crosby low in the right corner. Crosby lifts wrister. Smith flops to his left and somehow gets his blocker on the puck and deflects it wide. Wow.
4:03: Play is halted as linesman Steve Barton is having trouble keeping his balance. He heads to the Penguins bench with some assistance. Shane Doan slammed Kunitz into Barton and Barton took the worst of that collision. There's a trail of bloods spots on the ice. Barton heads down the Penguins' ramp to get medical attention.
3:44: Crosby taps a redirection on net. Smith eats it up.
3:31: Off a neutral zone faceoff, Downie drops the gloves with Doan. They mostly wrestle around near the Penguins blue line while struggling to get their arms free. Downie eventually gets a right free and pumps few into Doan before the officials step in. Doan has no problem with doing that.
2:39: Play returns to five on five. The Penguins really didn't do much with that chance.
2:33: McGinn snaps off a wrister from the right circle which deflects out of play.
0:31: After Spaling steals a puck on the Coyotes' right half wall, Lovejoy pounds a slapper from the right point. Smith steers it away.
0:05: After Rieder fumbles a puck in his own slot, Crosby jumps all over it and snaps it on net. Smith fights it off.
0:00: End of period. Coyotes 0, Penguins 0.
(That gentleman at the blue line was spraying warm water on the ice to dissolve the blood from Barton.)
-First, things first, no update on Letang.
-Things bogged down a bit that period. There wasn't nearly as much open ice despite the multiple power plays.
-Greiss' workload was considerably lighter given that he faced only three shots.
-Smith is playing like his family is being held captive. He's been out of his mind.
-The Penguins have a 27-16 lead in shots on net.
-Crosby leads the game with for shots.
-Doan leads the Coyotes with three shots.
-Ekman-Larsson leads the game with 18:57 of ice time.
-Letang and Martin each lead the Penguins with 14:24 of ice time.
-The Coyotes lead in faceoffs, 24-19 (56 percent).
-Chipchura is 10 for 16 (63 percent).
-Sutter is 5 for 9 (56 percent).
-Pouliot and Stone each lead the game with three blocked shots.
20:00: Letang is not on the bench to start the period.
19:20: Murphy chops a slapper from the right point over the cage.
18:04: Spaling deals a pass from the left wing corner to Malkin in the slot. Malkin fans on the shot and it flutters in on Smith who eats it up.
17:53: Cole hammers a one-timer from the left point. Smith eats it up.
17:38: Big save. Chipchura pushes a puck up the right wing and deals a pass to the slot. Rieder darts by Crosby and re-directs it on net. Greiss fights it off.
16:59: Sutter rips a heavy wrister from the right half wall. Smith kicks it out.
15:08: The Coyotes strike first. Corralling a puck at the right point, Klas Dahlbeck tees up a slapper which sails through traffic. Tye McGinn appears to get a piece of the puck and deflect it by Greiss' blocker. What deflection. Greiss looks disgusted. Dahlbeck and Crombeen get assists. Coyotes 1-0.
14:04: Sutter races up the left wing and rips a wrister which Campbell blocks wide.
14:00: Per a Penguins spokesperson, Barton will not return to the game.
13:35: Kunitz fires a wrister from the left wing which doesn't get through cleanly. Downie settles the puck above the crease and tries to fire a spinning wrister but loses the puck.
12:58: Pouliot chops a quick slapper from the left wing on net. Smith eats it up.
12:49: Crosby seeps a puck from behind the net in the Coyotes' crease. Hornqvist barges in but can't beat Ekman-Larsson or Smith.
12:44: Daniel Winnk to the rescue. Off a faceoff win in the Coyotes' left circle, Martin chucks a wrister from the right point. Smith kicks it out to the slot. Winnik is right there and snaps off a wrister by the blocker of Smith. It's not pretty but the Penguins will take it desperately Martin and Crosby get assists. Coyotes 1, Penguins 1.
12:12: Malkin drives in off the right wing to the slot and chucks a wrister wide tot he left of the cage.
11:42: Bennett races up the left wing and pushes a wrister on net.
11:32: Malkin pounds a slapper from the left circle. Hornqvist appears to take the shot right in in the groin. He and Kunitz battle for the rebound but can't beat Smith. HOrnqvist skates around a little to shake it off.
11:20: Off some nice perimeter passing, Crosby whacks a one-timer form the righ ticlr eiw on the near side.
10:41: Steve Downie to rescue. Crosby gains the offensive zone on the left wing and leaves a drop pass at the point for Downie. Downie dance around Moss and pounds a slapper from above the left circle by the blocker of Smith on the near side. What a blast. Downie celebrate with a leg in the air. This place goes nuts. Crosby and Malkin get assists. Penguins 2-1.
9:26: Stone clips Sutter in the face near the Coyotes' left wing corner while trying to lift his stick. Sutter falls in a heap holding his face. Play is halted. Sutter heads down the rampway. That's a double minor for high sticking as it drew blood. Crosby, Malkin, Hornqvist, Pouliot and Martin take the ice.
9:09: Crosby lift a wrister from the left wing on net. Smith eats it up.
8:57: Hornqvist lifts a backhander from in tight on net. Smith fights it off.
8:36: All [heck] breaks out. Pouliot snaps off a wrister from the left half wall on net. It hits a mass of bodies in the crease. Crosby appears to directs ti into the net with is right leg while standing over Smith. Crosby and Hornqvist celebrate. Smith takes a swing at Crosby and everyone jumps into the pile. Officialks take a few moments to break it up then review the play. After a minute or so, the goal is confirmed. Pouliot and Malkin get assists. The Penguins remain on the power play. Penguins 3-1.
6:59: Taking a feed from Martin, Malkin tries to deal a feed back to him at the left point but misses. Malkin's puck handling has been a little rusty.
6:36: The second Stone penalty is killed. The Penguins didn't really push things there with a two goal lead and played it safe.
4:39: A wrister by Rieder from the left wing is blocked by Malkin.
4:09: Off a feed by Chipchura, Moore pounds a slapper from the left circle. Greiss fights it off.
2:51: Winnik lifts a wrister from the left wing. Smith fights it off.
2:19: Arcobello lifts a wrister afrom the left wing. Lovejoy blocks it.
2:08: Smith is pulled for an extra attacker.
1:51: Not so fast. Arcobello gains the offensive zone on the left wing and deals a pass to Doan on the right wing, Doan taps it back to Rieder to the left of the net. Rieder plunks in the easy goal behind a helpless Greiss. Doan and Arcobello get assists. Fire Jim Rutherford. Penguins 3-2.
1:45: Smith is pulled again for an extra attacker.
0:42: A wrister by Stone from the right point is kicked out by Greiss.
1:18: A wrister by Winnik from the right point is blocked.
0:36: Hornqvist chips a puck up fro the right wing wide on the near side.
0:25: Gagner chucks a wrister on net. Greiss smothers it as McGinn crashes in.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Coyotes 2.
-First things first, Kris Letang was taken to the hospital for further evaluation. Mike Johnston said he will get an update tomorrow morning.
-Shane Doan's comments on the hit can be found here. Basically, Doan said he was trying to prevent Letang from skating by him cleanly.
-In or opinion, the hit was worthy of a two minute minor for something along the lines of interference as he made contact with Letang well after he released the puck. It wasn't a particularly vicious hit. It was more of an unfortunate hit than anything. If Letang was at the faceoff dot instead the red line, he doesn't hit the boards and it's just him hitting the ice. But he did hit the board and hit them hard. Here's the hit if you didn't see it:
-It almost reminds us of the hit by Alex Petrovic on Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane in February which pretty much injured Kane's season:
-It wasn't a particularly vicious hit. It just happened to be near the boards and it resulted in a serious injury.
-If the NHL had anything resembling a strict standard on preventing interference, Doan's hit doesn't happen. Basically, he admitted he was trying to interfere with Letang. In this instance, it ended horribly. The league allows plays like that to happen so players feel the freedom to interfere.
-But again, in our view, given the context of how lax the rules are, that's deserving of nothing more than a minor penalty.
-For what it's worth, no less than an authority than Steve Downie said he didn't think the hit was "that dirty:"
"[Doan's] not like that. I mean, he's not going to take dirty hits or dirty runs on guys. I didn't think it was that dirty. I think he fell the wrong way ... the distance from the boards and everything. But at the end of the day, we're down [Letang]. That's what hurts the most."
-Clearly, losing Letang for any period of time is a significant issue. He means so much to this team in so many ways. There just isn't any way to replace what he offers.
-Considering Christian Ehrhoff will presumably be sidelined tomorrow, the Penguins may need to preform some financial acrobatics in order to dress a complete roster.
-We believe Beau Bennett, still on his entry-level deal, is the only forward they can send down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in order to clear some cap space. If they did that, they could recall a defenseman like Scott Harrington, Taylor Chorney or Brian Dumoulin.
-This game was odd and ugly. It was odd in that it was a goaltending duel for the first 45 minutes so then all all of a sudden, goals were scored. Mike Smith and Thomas Greiss looked like they were in a staring contest for most of this game.
-And it was ugly in that there were a lot of nasty stuff between two non-rivals. As Coyotes coach Dave Tippett joked, Dave Tippett on this game's physical nature: "It seemed like there was a lot of hits and high sticks. Even the referee got a high stick."
-The Penguins played their game. They blasted a ton of shots and stuck with it despite Smith's stellar play. Once they gone one behind him, it's like they got some confidence back in terms of scoring.
-Downie stepped up in a myriad of ways. After Blake Comeau was ejected for boarding in the second period, he took over on the right wing of the second line and was pretty responsible in that role. In the second period, he avenged Letang by fighting Doan. Then in the third period, he took a drop pass from Crosby, make a nifty move and pounded a fierce slapper for a a go-ahead goal.
-There have been plenty of minus to Downie's game this season, mainly in the form of penalties, but his pluses have outweighed them. He's proven to be a great value to them.
-Daniel Winnik continues to look pretty comfortable on Sidney Crosby's wing. He keeps up with the pace of play, offers a physical element and opens some space for Crosby. Presumably, whenever David Perron is healthy, he'll return to that line and bump Winnik to one of the bottom-three lines, but Winnik has shown he can be a reliable presence in a top-six role.
-Patric Hornqvist came back and was Patric Hornqvist. He went to the net and created trouble for the Coyotes. He took abuse and had several quality scoring chance in tight. He had 17:59 on 26 shifts and two shots on net.
-Malkin looked a tad rusty in his return. He was a little sloppy with the puck. But overall, he looked to be fine. His skating was pretty strong and the Coyotes seemed a bit wary anytime he had the puck. He had 21:15 of ice time on 25 shifts, two assists and five shots.
-Despite its recent struggles and the loss of Letang, the Penguins' power play looked fairly dangerous. It got shots on net and pressured Smith. The Penguins' last two goals came on the power play.
-The penalty kill came up huge as it went 2 for 2 including on a lengthy major penalty to Comeau. The Coyotes aren't an offensive dynamo by any means, but if they score a goal in the first period on that major, this could have been a different game.
-Greiss looked pretty sharp. The two goals he allowed were hardly soft. He didn't battle the puck much and kicked out some mostly safe rebounds. He probably was motivated by playing his former team.
-Ben Lovejoy was pretty aggressive with his physical play. He initiated contact quite a bit and finished with nine hits.
-There was some dispute over Crosby's winning goal. The Coyotes felt Crosby kicked in. The NHL provided a video explanation on why it felt the goal was legal:
-After the game, Tippett said, "We thought it was a kicking motion but obviously in Toronto, they didn't think that."
-Crosby finished with three points. Those types of game seem so rare these days.
-Smith deserved better. He was just stellar. This was looking a lot like the game Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward had Thursday before the Penguins finally scored.
-For a guy more renown for hitting and fighting, Kyle Chipchura sure seemed to be involved in several scoring chance for Arizona.
-Once again, Michael Stone seemed to be involved in just about every facet of the game. Unfortunately for him, he was too involved as he took a few penalties, including one which led to Crosby's winning goal.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 46-24.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 67-43.
-Crosby led the game with six shots.
-Connor Murphy led the Coyotes with four shots.
-Oliver Ekman-Larsson led the game with 26:02 of ice time.
-Paul Martin led the Penguins with 23:55 of ice time.
-The Coyotes led in faceoffs, 33-29 (53 percent).
-Chipchura was 14 for 22 (64 percent).
-Brandon Sutter was 7 for 12 (58 percent).
-Stone led the game with four blocked shots.
-Lovejoy and Pouliot each led the Penguins with three blocked shots.
-The win moved the Penguins to 93 points and past the Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division standings based on tiebreakers.
-Each of Winnik's goals with the Penguins have come against the Coyotes. So presumably, he would win the Conn Smythe Trophy in a hypothetical Penguins-Coyotes Stanley Cup final.